A CPA’s Office Setup: Ways to Enhance Productivity

A peak into my office

Is a CPA’s office setup important? You bet.

Like you, I am constantly looking for ways to be more productive. I buy books, watch videos, and take note of how others work.

I like to see the offices of other CPAs. Here’s mine.

Multiple Monitors

Docking Station – I use a docking station that allows me to push one button to disconnect and place my laptop into a bag for travel. The docking station provides connectivity inputs behind my computer. Rather than disconnecting several wires to “set my computer free,” I push one button.

50″ Monitor (on a swivel hinge) – This monitor is about two feet behind my desk. I dock Outlook on the screen; this allows me to see incoming email at any moment. I also use this screen as a fourth working monitor. For example, when I am reviewing financial statements, I sometimes place the balance sheet on the 50″ screen and a second copy of the financial statements on my lower center monitor. Then as I review the remainder of the statements (e.g., notes), I can glance at the balance sheet.

The 50″ monitor hangs from a swivel hinge. The swivel hinge allows me to tilt the screen in other directions when I am sharing information from my laptop with others in my office. I am using this far more than I thought I would.

Todoist Checklist – I place all my outstanding to-do items in Todoist. Since Todoist integrates with Outlook, I usually have Outlook docked on the 50″ monitor. With just a glance, I can quickly see what I need to complete. With one click, I can add a new to-do item. And the to-do items I add on my laptop show up on my iPad and iPhone Todoist apps (and vice versa)–this integration is why I started using Todoist.

Logitech Camera – I often have online meetings and share information from my computer screen with those I am speaking with (I use Zoom). This Logitech camera creates an excellent picture and sound so those I’m sharing with can see and hear meLogitech C930e 960-000971 USB 2.0 1920 x 1080 Video Webcam

Bose Bluetooth Speaker – Music can make us more productive. And why not have quality sound? You spend such much of your waking day in your office. Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker II (Carbon)

iPhone on a Stand – Do you ever lay your phone down and later you can’t find it? (We used just to lose our keys, now it’s the phone and the keys.) This stand provides me with a consistent place for my phone. elago M2 Stand for all iphones, Galaxy and Smartphones (Angled Support for FaceTime), Black

printer shot

Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Scanner – When I receive physical paper documents, my usual first step is to scan the paper and place it (the paper) in my shred box. I use this scanner several times a day. I like the scanner (but I have had problems with paper jams). Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Scanner for PC and Mac (PA03656-B005)

Deluxe Shred Box – My deluxe shred box is a box top. I know, sophisticated, huh?

Landline Phone – I keep my phone over on my side table to keep it off my main desktop.

HP Printer – Many CPAs use a central printer for several people but think about the cumulative time you waste walking to the printer. HP LaserJet P2035 Monochrome Printer (CE461A#ABA)

CPA's Office Setup

iPad – This is my favorite device. I use it mainly outside the office, but I place it on the corner of my desk so I can quickly pick it up as I go out.

The Physical Library – I order most publications electronically, but for my physical books, I keep them handy here.

Adjustable Standup Desk – In my attempt to be a (little) more healthy, I bought this standup desk about three years ago. About once a day, I will print and stand while I review a set of financial statements–mainly to get my rear out of the chair. There has been a great deal of press lately about professionals (slowly) killing themselves by sitting too much. This desk does adjust down to the level of my main desktop, and it is mobile, so I use it–when I’m tired of standing–as an extension of my main desktop.

Paper-in Tray – I use a three-level tray for my incoming paper. The top shelf is for newly arrived paper information.

conference space

Corner Meeting Spot –  I use this corner area as a place to meet with partners and staff, especially if they bring paper copies in to discuss.

Coffee Maker – This is probably the most important appliance in my office. No coffee, no Charles.


Whiteboard – If someone needs to draw an idea out, here’s the place. I sometimes take iPhone pictures of the information drawn on the board and then store it in Evernote.

Watercooler – Drinking plenty of water each day will enhance your stamina. As you can tell, I like convenience.

Your Ideas

How would you change my office? What additional ideas would you add to these?

New SSARS 21 Book

My new SSARS 21 book titled Preparation of Financial Statements and Compilation Engagements is now available on Amazon.com. The book provides information about the new preparation of financial statements standard and compilation engagements. The book includes sample engagement letters and financial statements using the preparation and compilation guidance.

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12 thoughts on “A CPA’s Office Setup: Ways to Enhance Productivity

  1. Hi Charles,

    You have a very nice and functional work area. I don’t have one yet as I just moved to Pasadena. I had a very small but functional area in my previous place. If you are doing more of consulting than working on the books, you will not have a need for a bigger desk space. I used a platform to elevate my monitors 2 inches above the desk. As a result I got additional desk space underneath my monitors for documents I am working on. I bore a hole on the top of my desk to run and hide the wires. It is easier to clean. If I have a meeting nook, I will place my working desk against a wall and attach a big monitor on the wall, on top of all the other monitors such that I can slide back to my meeting nook and have video meetings on the same space where I have face to face meetings. I hope I can have enough space this time.

    I also like your concept of a stand up desk. I also use Fujitsu Scan Snap (a very very useful and reliable piece of equipment. I very seldom experience paper jams. You can check the replaceable rollers.

    Thank you for sharing your set-up.


  2. Hi Charles,

    Its helpful to see how others are set up. Thanks for that! You might consider turning your two lower monitors on their sides (and change the orientation obviously). Caseware and other applications with lots of forms are typically longer than they are wide so its helpful to see more of the screen at once without scrolling up and down so much.

  3. Charles,
    Invest in a multi-monitor stand to free up some space on your main desktop & maybe do away with the ?? phone book that appears to be supporting the one on the right.
    Otherwise pretty compact.
    PS I also use the very impressive copier box cover to accumulate papers for shredding. 🙂

  4. followed you post on Multiple Monitors. Your office setup is quite awesome. Thanks!!
    by the way – I had a Fujitsu Snapscan years ago – but when I switched computers to a Vista Laptop – I never found a way (From Fujitsu) – to get a driver that would let the scanner work w/ Vista. That was a bad experience. Am doing all my scanning now with a Brother MFC-870DW with PaperPort. Does a good job for a <$100 device. Would like a scanner with 2 sided one-pass ability. For what it's worth I will probably buy something from you in the foreseeable future. Am a CPA in Florida & have been getting back into the Tax business – for the last 3 years worked for Jackson Hewitt – in the retail tax business. A humble but somewhat rewarding way to get a re-start. For the 2014 season I also worked for HRB for 60 days & that was a mini disaster. Keep up your good work! Jon